Total Recall Review
by Laurie Coker
I could have re-watched the 1990 version of Total Recall prior to seeing the remake, but I didn’t, and my memory is limited (I recall cheesy and oddly esteemed), but it really matters not. It comes down to whether or not I enjoyed the new film starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale and directed by Len Wiseman. On one hand, Total Recall is not a total knock off, and on the other, it is also not a total cheesy mess either. While it didn’t completely blow me away, I liken it to a white water boating trip. Once on board riders must hang on, dragged along quickly by the natural flow of things, enjoying the thrill and excitement of rough and unpredictable white water, but also having to endure the lulls in the river, when the water flow slows. That’s Total Recall (2012).
Set in the future, Total Recall finds our planet with only two remaining landmasses on which all of humankind lives: The British Federation (the elite) and The Colony (the workers). Certainly this is not new stuff, especially in science fiction film, and in an imaginary world after humans nearly destroy themselves. It’s Brave New World in a spiffier special effects wrapper and a good deal more action and excitement. And as a bonus, this Total Recall has “The Fall,” a massive elevator that shuttles the lower-class workers through the core of the planet to work building police robots for the corrupt government a continent away.
Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) works in a factory in The British Federation, his life an endless grind. So despite being married to a strikingly beautiful, adoring wife, Lori (super sexy Kate Beckinsale), he decides to visit “Rekall,” a company that specializes in giving human beings false memories – of amazing experiences, spectacular trips, or even incredible jobs. But just as Quaid begins getting his injection, the administrator panics, and then robot police rush in and kill everyone – except Quaid, who, it seems has mad fighting skills. Is it real, or is it ReKall – his spy life within his dull life or visa versa? This ambiguity drives the film, but not nearly as much as the awe-inspiring visuals, action sequences, shoot outs and chase scenes.
Unlike Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall, this version has far, far cooler visual effects and it should, given the twenty-two years for advancement in CGI and cinematography. And it has a more gifted cast. This is where my comparisons stop, because I believe this Total Recall stands decently alone. I had few expectations, if any really, going in. I have always liked (lusted after, if the truth be known) Farrell, and he’s good in this – sexy and brooding, but not as good as Beckinsale, who truly eats up every scene she is in. Her doting wife is appealing, but her delectable, snarling she-villain (spoiler) is far better, and she looks amazingly sexy as she hunts down Doug. Biel has less screen time and is gorgeous too, but her ass-kicking good-girl can’t out shine Beckinsale. As I look back here, maybe I should admit, acting doesn’t seem to matter as much in this action-packed, chick-flick, sci-fi fair as does the easy-on-the-eyes cheese and beef-cake and maybe the predictable story is more forgivable, because of it too.
Rated R, for violence, Total Recall, actually entertained me more than Dark Knight Rises and I know I will take grief for saying that. I’m sure my opinion has a great deal to do with preconceived notions and expectations and not with story, acting or visual effects. I expected more from one and didn’t get it and expected little from the other and got more. I am placing a B in my grade book. I like a good white water rafting trip, even the slow bits.